Eric Foxley's Music Database
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We maintain a database of over 1000 traditional British related folk dance tunes. All are stored using the Nottingham ASCII format. They arose from an original core forming the repertoire of Freds Folks Ceilidh Band. The music is now available as PDF files.
The advantage of our storage technique is that the tunes can be searched and analysed by musical content. Try the music browser.
ClassificationThe tunes are stored under the following categories. The indexes for each category are permuted, each tune is indexed under each of the words in the title.
The above indexes have permuted title entries, and allow you to view the ASCII file or existing scores.
SourcesMost tunes have been collected over a lifetime of playing (which started when I sat in at the back of many bands in the London area and elsewhere from the age of 12 onwards), and the sources from whom I learnt the tunes are acknowledged. These are all collected "by ear", and details change over time. The arrangements, harmonies, simplifications are entirely mine. Where there is a known printed source, that is included. I apologise for any unknowing omissions of sources, and would be happy to add them.
Named printed sources referred to in the scores include
The tunes displayed by the above links may be in one of three formats. Some are simple text files in our internal ASCII format. Others are displayed as standard music scores, either PDF (© Adobe Systems International) files (generated on a SUN using our programs fed into "psroff" and "Distiller"), or GIF files generated by converting our ASCII to PostScript using Phil Rowe's program, then converted to GIF format using "gs" and tweaked using "xv". Apologies for any loss of precision in caused by the conversion from PostScript to GIF. We are limited in the number of scores we can store at any time by disc space; each GIF score takes up much more space than the corresponding ASCII version, and PDF scores are even larger.
Score conventionsA typical score appears as in the example for Davy Davy Knick Knack (a super tune which no-one should underestimate, capable of endless variation and phrasing subtleties):
The harmonies shown below the staves in the music notation have significance as follows.
DistributionWe are happy for others to use tunes from our repertoire; after all, the tunes the we use were picked up from others, and the traditional tunes are best! We just hope that you play them properly and carefully, not as streams of notes but as phrased music making folks want to dance. In the Davy Davy Knick Knack example shown above, bars 1 and 2 look like bars 5 and 6. They should however be played completely differently with no similarity of shape. Bars 1 and 2 are for setting the dancers down at the start of another figure, bars 5 and 6 are for starting the climax towards the end of the 8 bar phrase.
Warning!The melodies as stored are my interpretation of the essence of the tune. Obviously no respectable folk musician actually plays anything remotely like what is written; it is the ornamentation and variation that gives the tune its lilt and style.
The original database files are all in an ASCII format which can be analysed for ethnic stylistics.
We have a preprocessor forming part of the printing system which converts the ASCII files into files of absolute notes with pitch and duration.
We would hope eventually to have sound samples and printing facilities on-line. Suggestions welcome!
See also The Mining Company Folk Music site, and the Digital Tradition Folk Song Database and a Spanish site and a directory of music scores on the WWW.
Site under recovery from an ancient version, latest update 12-Jan-2021